After a heated debate between committee members, the Student Services Finance Committee approved of the $33,724 budget for Wunk Sheek, an organization that serves students of indigenous identity and members of the UW community interested in indigenous issues, culture and history.
The committee also approved the budget for Wisconsin Association of Black Men at $27,138 and the budget for $32,600 Student Judiciary.
The most debated motion, made by Rep. Max Goldfarb, was to cut the funding from $29,800 to $0 for Wunk Sheek’s On Wisconsin Annual Spring Pow Wow. The 2016 event was described as “a social gathering among Native American people and the public to bridge the boundaries between UW & the eleven Tribal Nations residing in Wisconsin.”
According to the SSFC bylaws, events funded by an organization from the General Student Services Fund must have at least 75 percent student attendance, while the event last year had well below that 75 percent threshold.
“If we don’t adhere [to SSFC bylaws], you jeopardize our legitimacy as a committee and every decision we’ve made this year,” Goldfarb said.
This amendment was met with criticism from Rep. Jordan Madden and Rep. Zaakir Abdul-Wahid due to the fact this will be Wunk Sheek’s first year funded since 2010. In previous years, they raised funds by private means. The committee should fund the event this year, and then revisit whether or not the funding should continue after their first year as a GSSF organization, Abdul-Wahid said.
Madden then recommended the funding be lowered to $9,800 instead of $0 in an amendment. But, he did not give line item specifications so the amendment could not carry.
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“I think outright defunding [Pow Wow], given the information that we have now, would be kind of shortsighted,” Madden said. “I went out of my way and met with the officers of this group and a lot of the questions and issues that I had with this budget initially were solved.”
Rep. Dylan Resch said decreasing funding wouldn’t be appropriate either because the event is not in accordance with the guidelines in the SSFC, emphasizing the earlier point made by Goldfarb.
In a vote of 7-3-4, the motion to defund the Pow Wow event passed. The overall budget for Wunk Sheek passed in a vote of 12-0-2.